Freezing winters will starve millions in Afghanistan: UN

Swedish, Pakistani ministers insist on immediate deliverance of aid to counter humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan

Starvation and the looming threat of sub-zero temperatures are reportedly pushing Afghanistan to the brink of a humanitarian crisis, the alarm of which has been raised by ministers in Sweden and Pakistan.

Sweden International Development Cooperation Minister Per Ollson Fridh told Reuters on Saturday that a humanitarian catastrophe would strike Afghanistan faster than anticipated. Fridh foreboded that Afghanistan could become a haven for terrorists if international aid was not provided to counter the developing economic crisis.

Fridh’s concerns found reality in a tragedy in west Kabul roughly three weeks ago. According to media outlet Gandhara, eight orphaned children were found dead from starvation in Kabul’s 13th district. The children, who ranged in age from 18 months to eight years, were buried by local clerics in the area. An Afghan cleric, Mohammad Ali Bamiani detailed how he went to see the mortal remains of the children, who were so starved that they couldn’t stretch their limbs properly. Bamiani said that the parents of the deceased had already passed away.

The same day that Fridh spoke with Reuters, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told the media outlet that Afghanistan needed humanitarian assistance, which should be delivered through direct collaboration with the Afghan Taliban. Major global players like China and United States should work to recognize the new Afghan leadership by removing sanctions on some of their leaders, said Chaudhry.

While Fridh was on the same page about the immediate need for aid, he differed from Chaudhry’s approach and said that Sweden would help Afghanistan via civil society groups, instead of dealing with or recognizing the Taliban. Fridh maintained that Taliban had so far only echoed their oppressive regime between 1996 and 2001 and the time was not ripe for European countries to formally recognize them.

The United Nations (UN) has also put forth ominous predictions regarding the nature of crisis impending in Afghanistan. World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley told Reuters on Monday that over 50 percent of Afghanistan’s population faced the threat of malnutrition and starvation in coming months. Beasley said that food insecurity would hit children the worst. The UN high official said that development assistance had to be rejigged as humanitarian aid and delivered to Afghans immediately. He added that the UN food agency needed roughly $220 million monthly to help nearly 23 million Afghans as winters closed in.